What does it mean to be a resident of Illinois?

house movingTo obtain a judgment for dissolution of marriage, one of the spouses has to be a resident of Illinois for at least 90 days before the date of entering the final judgment. The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act specifically provides that one spouse shall be a resident 90 days prior to the date of filing the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage. However, the Court will allow a party to file a petition before living in Illinois for 90 days. Provided he or she lives in Illinois continuously for 90 days before the date of judgment, the requirement may be met.

When spouses live transient lifestyles or own property in more than one state, a determination of residency can be a highly disputed and critical issue. Parties may engage in “jurisdictional wars” and argue which state has the authority to apply its law and issue orders. One spouse may be inclined to create the appearance of residency if one state’s law appears more favorable to him or her.

Residency is determined based on where the person maintains a “permanent abode.” The court looks to the person’s intent to establish residency. Intent can be proven by examining the person’s behaviour: does he have a driver’s license in that state, own a house there, have a doctor there, vote in that state, or go to church there? How much time does the person spend there? A person can have more than one house in multiple states but, under the law, he can only have one residence.

Without meeting the residency requirement, the court will not have to authority to issue a judgment dissolving your marriage. Depending on whether you own property in the state and if you have children, the procedure regarding jurisdiction can become much more complex. Conferring with a lawyer and discussing your long term goals will be critical in determining your course of action.



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